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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 12:46 GMT
Council in road cone statue plea
By Stephanie Todd
BBC Scotland news website

Duke Of Wellington statue, Royal Exchange Square (Image courtesy of Fab Properties)
The traffic cone hat tradition started in the 1980s
Officials in Glasgow are asking people to end a tradition that centres on the city's most famous traffic cone.

The Duke of Wellington's statue on Queen Street has long attracted the attention of late night revellers clambering up to adorn him with a hat.

However, the continuing prank has resulted in damage being done to one of Scotland's oldest bronze monuments.

As a result, the city council has issued a reminder that the placing of the cone constitutes a "criminal act".

Strathclyde Police warned that anyone caught climbing up the 160-year-old monument outside Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) could face prosecution.

Any person found defacing the statue or climbing on it for the purpose of defacing it may face criminal charges
Strathclyde Police

The Wellington statue was sculpted by Italian artist Carlo Marochetti and erected in 1844.

The traffic cone hat tradition is thought to stretch back at least 20 years.

Locals say the cone demonstrates Glaswegians' sense of humour and is as much part of the city as any of the famous buildings or statues.

However, after years of turning a blind eye to the prank, the city council is now believed to be taking a tougher stance on the unsanctioned decoration.

The Duke has lost his spurs and half his sword as a result of pranksters trying to scale the structure.

'Don't do it'

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council told BBC Scotland's news website that the placing of the traffic cone on the statue constituted "an act of vandalism".

He added: "We as a council would be very concerned about anyone climing on the statue, not only because of the damage that could be caused to the statue itself, but of the harm that could come to someone if they fell off - it is a tall structure after all.

"The message we would send to people thinking about climbing on the Duke of Wellington is 'don't do it - please'."

Duke Of Wellington statue
The cone-free statue offers a resting place for pigeons

Strathclyde Police warned that anyone caught climbing on the statue could face criminal prosecution.

Chief Superintendent David Christie said: "Any person found defacing the statue or climbing on it for the purpose of defacing it may face criminal charges.

"However, each individual incident would have to be treated on its own merits."

Historic Scotland backed measures to protect the monument.

A spokeswoman told BBC Scotland's news website: "Glasgow's Duke of Wellington statue is nationally important.

"While the crowning of the statue with the cone is a longstanding tradition, at the end of the day the statue is A-listed and it is up to the council to determine what steps to take to protect it."

Dewar statue damage 'not criminal'
14 May 02 |  Scotland
Hat's not on, says lord provost
02 Aug 00 |  Scotland

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